Friday, 04 November 2016

My First British Halloween

Follow the chronicles of an American expat on her new brand new life in London

Written by Lindsay Robinson
For starters, it is absolutely baffling to me that Halloween didn't kick off first in the UK. Seeing as our modern celebration most likely derived from the Celtic "Samhain", I assumed that geography and heritage would play a part in the evolving celebrations that we have today. On the other hand, deep-rooted American consumerism makes this also very unsurprising. Whatever the relation or true origin, I am just very grateful that it exists and has caught on in both nations. What fun, what horror, what a fabulous excuse for a sugar induced coma.

Where I grew up in the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama, they know no limits to celebrating Halloween. My neighborhood would become decked out in decorations and the candy shelves at the grocery store would be swept clean. It was never a very walkable city, so townsfolk started responding to this by purchasing golf carts. Of course these golf carts were not exempt from the decor. They quickly were equipped with lighted ceilings and if you were a really cool family, you'd buy a trailer for the back of it to fill your friends in. On Halloween night, the streets were filled with children both on foot and overflowing their colorful chariots, all racing to be the first to find the houses with the best goodies. Lines would even be formed to the doorways of the houses with the "king sized" chocolate bars!

Having family in the UK, I heard that Halloween had not truly existed until recently. I knew this would not last long as Londoners do seem to cling on to any reason to party as well; and sure enough, a mighty good replica of the Americanized Halloween had entered the city by the time I had arrived. Coincidence? I'll let readers decide. Nonetheless, I was eager to see any and all festivities that I could and where else to turn than the night tube. Coming back from various events across the city during the later hours, I watched all sorts of creatures board my train: Beetlejuice, devil, woman with a spider infestation on her face, and many more. It was bonus entertainment on top of the typical night tube patrons.

I finally arrived in Chelsea on Halloween night where I was met with an increasing number of costumed children and parents walking in large groups around the residential areas. I was surprised by the number of decorations around participating households and immediately grew nostalgic. There, I was able to participate in a more adult manner by thrusting a bucket of chocolate excitedly toward approaching children and admire their costumes from the other side of the doorway. I thoroughly enjoyed the sense of festivity and witnessing a new and growing holiday of fun for all. I do hope for future expansion of this strange holiday, from children to parents and all the night tube horror shows in between. Any you never know, one day you may just witness a parade of tricked out golf carts to haul the children around the block!

Follow Lindsay on Twitter @Linds_Robins and Instagram @Linds_Robins

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